Being a military brat and also a military veteran, I have had the chance to see the majority of the United States and part of the world. My parents made many trips to historical places and museums when I was growing up. I love history. I enjoy reading the stories of where people came from.
Traveling, as well as moving around the country, gave me an insight to other cultures. For example, when I was six, my step dad was stationed in Key West, Florida. We lived across the street from a married couple; she was Japanese and he was Puerto Rican. Now and then we would be invited over for dinner, each time we went it was always something different; he would cook something from his home country or she would cook something from her home country. On occasion she would babysit my sisters and me and she would show us pictures of Japan and make Japanese popcorn for us; their kernels are black.
A few years ago I got the chance to live with a Cheyenne/ Arapaho family in Oklahoma for a summer. I was also given the honor of attending a Sun Dance. Not many “outsiders” are asked to come and join them, so I was more than elated when I was asked. To me it was more than just an honor; it was an experience to learn about another Native American culture than my own Native American heritage as I am Cherokee and Choctaw. It was the first time I had eaten buffalo, as well as fry bread.
Sun Dance is more than just watching warriors dance, there are rules to be followed, mostly for us women. Of course I always have to ask why; it’s more of a curiosity as to why these rules are set. For instances, if a woman is menstruating she cannot get closer than fifty yards from the Sun Dancers, it makes them sick. There is a certain dancer that has a lizard painted on him that is of great importance to the Sun Dance; he is named the lizard man. I was told not to stare at the lizard man; I could glance his way, but only for a quick second. The lizard man holds strong power for the one offering himself in the Sun Dance and staring at him will cause him harm.
In UAE (United Arab Emirates) Dubai, a group of my shipmates and I rode camels through the desert, stopping at an oasis. They had cooked a large meal for us that included sheep, chicken, vegetables, and camel meat; camel is like our cow here in America. They wouldn’t allow us to pass up any food that was offered, so camel meat was put on my plate whether I wanted it or not. However, I did taste it and to me, it was the nastiest meat I’ve ever eaten. There was also a belly dancer, henna hand painting, and a hookah. A hookah is a machine that you can smoke flavored tobacco from. If you have ever seen the cartoon movie Alice in Wonderland, the caterpillar smokes a hookah. I didn’t give the hookah a try because I was afraid it wouldn’t be tobacco in there, but instead there would be something illegal and I would get in trouble.